Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Caprese Panini

Submitted by Hannah

If you have an abundance of tomatoes and basil this summer season here is a recipe idea for you. I love the traditional caprese salad but add some crusty bread and melt the cheese and it may have gotten even better. It has been pretty hot here in MN and last thing I want to do is turn on the oven for dinner. So, I was looking through my kitchen and I found a panini maker my husband had won that we have only used a couple of times. Now I'm really wondering why we aren't making them all of the time, they are delicious!


Slices of your favorite bread (sourdough, country bread, french and so on)

Thin slices of Mozzarella cheese (I used fresh but you can use block cheese also)

Tomato slices

Basil leaves, chopped basil or pesto

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Marinara Sauce


Oil your panini maker lightly or skillet if you do not have a panini maker and heat to about medium. On one piece of bread put a layer of cheese and on top of that put your basil and tomatoes. I like to salt and pepper my tomatoes. On top of that put another thin layer of cheese to act as the glue to keep your sandwich together and then top with the second piece of bread. If you are using pesto spread a think layer or as much as you like on the bread before adding the cheese and tomatoes. You can butter the bread or put olive oil on the outside too, to make sure it gets a nice crunch. Once the sandwiches are ready cook until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is ooey gooey. Serve with warm marinara sauce and you are all set for an easy and delicious dinner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

submitted by: Melanie

My friend Keri brought these yummy treats to a Memorial Day Picnic, I was so happy that she did. They are really yummy, but not so good for the waist line. All of the kids at the picnic loved them, they can be a little messy for toddlers, but hey they are worth the mess.


1 package of Pillsbury classic traditional fudge brownie mix (19.5 oz)
1/4 cup butter,melted
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 can pillsbury chocolate fudge frosting

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Beat brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese and egg in medium bowl until well blended (dough will be sticky).

2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 24 cookies; smooth edge of each to form round cookie.

3. Mix powdered sugar and peanut butter in small bowl with spoon until mixture forms a ball. With hands, roll rounded teaspoonfuls peanut butter mixture into 24 balls. Lightly press 1 ball into center of each ball of dough.

4. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheets at least 30 minutes.

5. Spread thin layer of frosting over peanut butter portion of each cooled cookie.

Flatten cookies slightly before baking. Bake at 350 for 11-15 minutes.

Source: My friend Keri Berry

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Garlic and Chive Loaf

Ok, for those of you who still haven't tried making any bread, here is yet another tantalizing loaf to entice you.  Really, it isn't that difficult.  That is all I have to say.  

Ok, that's not really all I have to say...as you look at the picture, take a deep breath in through your nose and imagine that beautiful fresh bread aroma coming from your kitchen.
Submitted by Lisa

The book is : Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

The recipe I used is : The Master Recipe: Boule What I like about this recipe is that you mix it up it like 5 min., toss it into a bowl and leave it for 2 hrs. It rises. Really. Then punch it down, and put it into a bowl with a lid, and into the fridge...or use it right then. Now, you have ready made dough for the next 2 wks that you can pull pieces off of for what ever you want. Example: pizza dough, crusty rolls, pita pockets, cheesy/garlic bread.... It doesn't need a 2nd rise. It is ready to go straight from the fridge.

Take about 1/2 of the dough and knead it for just a minute on a floured surface.  Let it rest for 5 minutes now.  Using your fingers only, push the dough down and out to form a roughly shaped rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Sprinkle a bit of olive oil over the dough, spread on the chopped chives and sprinkle the Garlic Garlic from Tastefully Simple over the dough also.  (if you don't have that, you can use another form of garlic sprinkle..don't use garlic salt though)

Now, start at the short end and roll up firmly, sealing the dough at the seam and ends.  Set it on a piece of parchment and wait until your oven is up to 450 degrees.  

You want this to cook for 30 to 35 minutes.  The dough is dense and the center may not be completely done if you take it out to early.  It will be fairly dark in color when done and sound hollow when tapped.

Just before putting it into the oven, you can score the top with a design just for appearances. 

Follow the directions below:
3 Cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast (2 packets)

1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt or other course salt ( I never use that much, maybe 1 tsp)

6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose flour (I use the self rising flour)

1. Warm water to about 100 degrees. (pretty WARM to your hand)

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in your mixing bowl. Mix in the flour all at once. It says you don't need to knead it. You don't. But I give it a quick once over so it is all smooth and incorporated. Then place it in a greased bowl, cover and leave it be.
3. Once it has doubled, punch it down and use it, or store it in a container in the fridge for up to 2 wks.

**To use if for a loaf of bread, you cut off the desired size chunk of dough (remember that this will not rise again, so it will remain very close to the size you cut) give it a quick knead and shape it as desired. Set it on parchment paper, and when the oven is up to temp., just slide the parchment and bread onto the stone. If you don't have parchment, you can just place it directly on the stone. I cut the top of this loaf simply because I felt like it. Sometimes I shape in more long, and narrow. If you are making rolls, you follow the same process, just on a smaller scale.

4. You need a baking stone. Pre heat your oven too 450 degrees. ADD A METAL PAN TO THE BOTTOM RACK , LIKE A BREAD PAN, on the left side out of the way. Once you have reached temp, place your bread or rolls on the stone and shut the oven.
5. Get 1 cup of hot water from the tap, and pour it into the bread pan in the bottom of the oven and quickly close the door. This creates steam which helps with the "crusty" part of the bread.
6. Set your timer for 30 min. Don't worry about how brown the loaf gets. In order for the center of the loaf to cook, you need the 30 min.
7. When it comes out of the oven, I like to rub butter over the loaf.

**Tip 1** Quite often when I am mixing the dough, I will add a couple tbsp.'s of Garlic Garlic from Tastefully Simple. It adds a nice flavor to the dough for what ever purpose you are using it for.
**Tip 2** One of our favorite additions is: 1 container of Feta cheese, and 2 cups of cooked, drained spinach to the dough. This cooks up into a loaf beautifully.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creamy, Dreamy Chocolate Ice Cream

Go and make this ice cream right now!  It is seriously some of the creamiest, chocolatiest ice cream ever.  I received a KitchenAid ice cream attachment last Christmas and was so excited to try it this summer.  I've made a few different kinds, like peach, vanilla and mint Oreo, but this was definitely my favorite.  It was really decadent right out of the ice cream mixer, but I think I preferred it after it spent a couple of hours in the freezer.  And the mix-in possibilities are endless!  Oreos, chopped, toasted almonds, mint cookies, peanut butter, and it goes on and on.  I went to the store and bought some cheap-o chocolate ice cream for the kids because I thought they weren't appreciating this ice cream as much as I was.  Yeah, I'm nice like that.
Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
3. Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer).  (I found that it doesn't take long at all for the mixture to come to 170 degrees, so be ready to take it's temperature right away. You don't want to overcook this.) Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)
From browneyedbaker.com who got it from  The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chex School Fuel

submitted by Lisa

This is a great recipe for a quick snack.  The kids (and me) just love it.  When I make banana bread I usually put 1/2 a bag of choc chips in with it.  Well, that left over 1/2 bag is perfect for this recipe!  You can change it up too and add in other things if you so desire but we actually don't mess around with this one.  We like it just the way it is.  Once is has chilled on the pan in your fridge for a bit to set up the chocolate, just break it up and store in an airtight container for easy access.  This recipe is from:  Chex.com


4cups Corn Chex® cereal
4cups Rice Chex® cereal
3/4cup packed brown sugar
6tablespoons butter or margarine
3tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4teaspoon baking soda
1/4cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Into large microwavable bowl, measure cereal; set aside. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.
2.In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, butter and corn syrup uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved. Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave on High 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool 10 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces.
3.In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High about 1 minute 30 seconds or until chips can be stirred smooth (bowl will be hot). Drizzle over snack. Refrigerate until set. Store in tightly covered container.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Submitted by Heather

This is a flavorful and spicy dinner great for any weeknight or company.  It's got a bit of a kick that can be adjusted by how much cajun spice is used.  The amount used in this recipe equals about the heat of a medium salsa.  Before I made this recipe, I'd never used cajun spice.  Gasp!  I can't believe I overlooked it so long.  It's really great for adding a lot of flavor easily.  I use the Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning in the green can.  My whole family loves this dish.  I love that it's a one pot meal that needs no side dish.  Easy!  I probably make it every other week, so it's definitely a favorite. 

3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced (or two 14 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain when pasta is still al dente; do NOT overcook! 

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!
Adapted slightly from thepioneerwoman.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pork & Pesto stuffed Ravioli

Submitted by Lisa

I have had a bag of dehydrated ancho chili peppers in my cupboard for a couple of months!  I wanted to do something creative with them and was having  no luck finding a recipe that looked good.  While searching for recipes, I found several that had things I liked so this recipe below is a compilation of those that I found.  I am the kind of cook who takes a little from here and a little from there and uses what I have in the house to create.  Usually I find a recipe and end up substituting most of the ingredients with what I actually have instead of what it calls for.  You end up with some interesting foods!  It is fun though and helps you get more creative on your own.  The ancho chili's add a nice little pop of heat with out ruining your taste buds and sending you running for the jug of milk. I hope you like this!

tip:  keep some egg roll wrappers on hand in the fridge for those creative moments.

1 cooked and shredded pork loin ( you could use cooked chicken or turkey also)
1 medium onion
12 to 15 basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic OR 1 1/2 tbsp Garlic Garlic from tastefully simple
2 cups grape tomatoes  (or chopped up larger tomato)
1 can chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1 pkg round wonton wrappers
1/2 cup cream cheese (1/2 a brick)
2 dehydrated ancho chili peppers (re-hydrate in hot water before use)


1.  Cook the pork loin in crock pot until it shreds easily.  I put a little soy sauce in with it and pepper.
2.  Once shredded, use about 2/3 of it and keep the rest for a sandwich.
3.  In a small food processor, mince 1/2 of the onion, 3 of the cloves of garlic or 1 tbsp of the Garlic Garlic,            the basil leaves and 2 tbsp of the chicken stock.  Blend until finely ground.
4.  Take this mixture and stir into the shredded meat.  Place small amount in center of wonton wrapper.

Wet the edges with water and place another wrapper on top, sealing carefully to remove all air.  Set aside on a dry plate or peace of parchment paper.  Make sure not to let the finished ravioli's touch each other...they will stick together.

5.  Once all the ravioli's are made, you can store them in the fridge in single layers in between parchment or continue on with the sauce steps.

1.  Chop the rest of the onion and add another clove of garlic pressed, or 1/2 tsbp of the garlic garlic, and chopped up ancho chille peppers.  Place in pan with olive oil and cook until slightly softened.

2.  Add remaining chicken stock, sugar and tomatoes.  Cook covered until tomatoes start to burst.  Once that happens, smash them with a potato masher and add the rest of the cream cheese.  Stir until mixed in. Now add in the ravioli's and cook until they are tender and coated with the sauce.

3.  Garnish with additional basil and parmesan cheese.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Garlic Tomatoes

I'm guessing a lot of you are starting to see your tomato plants exploding with beautiful red fruit.  I'm not able to have a garden at my house, because we are surrounded by too many trees.  And I don't think my neighbors would enjoy me plowing a plot for my garden smack dab in the middle of my front yard.  Thus, I have a pitiful 3 pots out front with struggling tomato plants.  The bugs and my kids are eyeing the green globes growing there, and plotting who is going to destroy them first.  My neighbor has a large garden, though, and has been generous with her zucchini and tomatoes. There are so many wonderful things to do with those flavorful, homegrown tomatoes.  This recipe is bursting with flavor and freshness.  I'm a lover of garlic (and thankfully my husband is too!), and these are a delicious addition to any meal that needs a flavorful side dish.

1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
2 T. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 cloves of crushed garlic

Put all ingredients into a jar and shake.  Remove stems and ends of 8 small tomatoes.  Slice crosswise in 1/2 inch slices.  Place tomatoes in a shallow bowl and pour sauce over the tomatoes.  Chill before serving.

Notes:  These are best if you let the marinade sit for a while for the flavors to blend (or you can let the marinade and the tomatoes sit together for a while before eating and blend the flavors that way).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Double Ginger Crackles

Submitted by: Lisa
I was in Penzy's Spice store again and decided to get something I hadn't used before....Crystallized Ginger.  It has been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of weeks while I  thought about it.  After searching online and finding multiple suggestions, I settled on this cookie recipe.  I was so pleased with it that I am adding it to my favorites.  What I liked most about it was that they stayed soft and moist.  I am not traditionally a fan of ginger snaps, these are in a class all their own.  You get a double hit of ginger on your tongue when you bite into them.  Between the ground ginger and the crystallized ginger, you get different sensations along your tongue.  It was fun to eat!
10 oz. (2-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour 
2-3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger
Tip: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 oz.) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar with an electric mixer (a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand-held) on medium-high speed until well blended. 

Add the egg, molasses, and crystallized ginger; beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.
ground ginger, and crystallized ginger

Pour the remaining 1/3 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Using a 1-Tbs. cookie scoop, a small ice cream scoop, or two tablespoons, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. 

Roll each ball in the sugar to coat. Set the balls 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies are puffed and the bottoms are lightly browned, 12 to 14 min. If you touch a cookie, it should feel dry on the surface but soft inside. 

The surface cracks will look a bit wet. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 min. and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. When cool, store in airtight containers.

Ginger flavor intensifies with time, making these cookies excellent candidates for long keeping. When stored in an airtight container, the cookies remain impressively delicious for up to five days from baking. Well wrapped, the cookies will keep for several weeks in the freezer.
Source:  Fine Cooking Dec 2005

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ratatouille Bake

Submitted by: Lisa

recipe image

(this isn't my picture...I forgot to take one so I used the one with the recipe at www.allrecipes.com )
We made, actually Haley did, this dish for a neighborhood block party.  This time of year with all the fresh vegetables from your garden or farmers market, it is easy to whip up something like this dish.  I found with the added cheese ravioli, the kids were more willing to eat all the vegies!  I didn't have any eggplant so I used a yellow squash and some cabbage.  You can really put any vegies you want to in there and it will turn out great.  Be creative!

Ratatouille Bake

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups peeled and diced eggplant
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package frozen cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C); spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the garlic, onion, and eggplant with the garlic until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, and black pepper; bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

3.Cook the frozen ravioli as directed on the package; drain. Spread the cooked ravioli in a layer into the bottom of the prepared baking dish; spoon the hot vegetables over the ravioli. Sprinkle with the cheese.
4.Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Source:  www.allrecipes.com 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Zucchini Brownies

Submitted by: Lisa

That time of year when the zucchini plants produce like nothing else!  Zucchini bread is good, but Zucchini Brownies are Better!!  I had these one night at a church activity and had no idea that there was zucchini in them.  Very moist with a rich chocolate flavor.  You know they are a hit when the kids gobble them down and come back for more.  Take those over abundant zucchini and shred them up and freeze them so you can enjoy these brownies all year long. Lip Smackin' good. 

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
(I like to then take a knife and finely chop the shredded zucchini so there is no way the kids can find it!  If they don't see it, they don't even know it is there! My kids have eaten almost the whole pan already)

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.
Source:  All Recipes.com